Four North Iowa school districts are being recognized by the State of Iowa today for leading the way in providing students with innovative opportunities to partner with local businesses and gain skills that will help them land careers in high-demand fields. The Governor’s STEM Advisory Council is awarding $25,000 to Charles City, New Hampton, Osage and the Rudd-Rockford-Marble Rock Community School Districts.
Collectively, the four school districts are directing the $25,000 toward the development of a regional consortium that will enhance the ways in which the schools and businesses partner for the benefit of student learning. The goal of STEM BEST (Businesses Engaging Students and Teachers) is to connect business and industry to education in more meaningful and impactful ways.
The Community School Districts plan to replicate the core design principles of the Iowa BIG (Big Ideas Group) program in Cedar Rapids along with the profession-based learning approach of the Northland CAPS (suburban Kansas City) and Waukee APEX programs. Implementation of the BIG portion of the program is expected in the spring of 2016, with the first BEST course(s) beginning in the fall of 2016.
In addition to the STEM BEST grant, more than $40,000 of in-kind support has been pledged by local businesses, including: Cambrex Charles City, Charles City Family YMCA, Charles City Press, Charles City Area Development Corporation, Fox River Mills, Hy-Vee, Mitas Tires North America, Mitchell County Economic Development Commission, North Iowa Area Community College, Thor Manufacturing LLC, and Valent BioSciences Corporation.
The STEM BEST proposal by the North Iowa consortium faced intense competition state-wide. Nearly twice the number of proposals that could be funded were received.